NEW DELHI: Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Saturday appealed to the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to take measures to divert trucks carrying non-essential goods on peripheral expressways to avoid traffic jams at the national capital borders. With pollution levels in the national capital worsening, the Centre’s air quality panel had on Thursday banned the entry of trucks other than electric and CNG ones into Delhi. Those carrying essential commodities are exempted.
“Stage IV of GRAP has already been invoked with immediate effect from November 3. Mandating the NCR and Delhi authorities to ensure that trucks carrying non-essential items should not be allowed to enter Delhi till further date as deemed necessary,” said Rai in a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
“It is necessary that the transport and traffic authorities of your state also take steps/measures to divert such non-essential trucks on eastern/ western peripheral expressway or any other alternate route beyond the NCR limit to avoid congestion and traffic jams at the borders shared with Delhi,” said the minister. “Necessary cooperation is solicited from your respective state in this regard,” he added.
Alarmed by hazardous pollution levels, the Delhi government on Friday announced the closure of primary schools from Saturday and that 50 per cent of its staff will work from home. It also advised private offices to follow suit. The 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of Delhi on Friday stood at 447.
It had jumped to 450, just a notch short of the ‘severe plus’ category, on Thursday, prompting the authorities to invoke the final stage of antipollution curbs under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), including a ban on non-BS VI diesel-run light motor vehicles. An AQI above 400 is considered ‘severe’, which can seriously impact those with existing illnesses. Delhi’s air quality improved marginally on Friday morning on the back of strong surface-level winds but remained ‘severe’.